Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. (via Flickr)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with well-known conservatives at the tech giant’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Wednesday afternoon. The meeting took place after Facebook was accused of not being editorially neutral. Former employees, known as “news curators,” told the news site Gizmodo that they routinely suppressed conservative news from appearing in Facebook’s “trending” news section.

ABC News reported on who attended the meeting:

Representing conservatives will be media personality Glenn Beck, as well as pundit Dana Perino, who once served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, Zac Moffatt, the former digital director for Mitt Romney, Arthur Brooks, president of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, and Barry Bennett, an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Facebook did not disclose the criteria by which it formed an invitation list to the meeting, and has not publicized the names of invitees who may have declined the event.

Many conservatives had expressed anger about the alleged bias. The conservative news site Breitbart, for example, published an open letter explaining why its staff would not meet with Zuckerberg. Beck ranted in a Facebook post Friday.

Zuckerberg, in his own Facebook post published last week, explained his intentions. “I want to have a direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible,” he wrote.

In fact, as International Business Times noted, “the ex-Facebook employees who spoke to Gizmodo did not allege that Facebook suppresses conservative articles or websites across the board”:

Instead, their claim was much more specific: A particular component of the site, the Trending Topics bar, was allegedly curated by contractors who favored liberal topics of interest over conservative ones.

Still, the perception that Facebook is smothering conservative news — Fox News, by the way, often dominates the social network, trouncing sites like BuzzFeed — provides figureheads like Beck with plenty of Orwellian material.

Although freedom of press is a serious issue, the entire scenario does have a slightly ridiculous aspect to it. The marketing website Contently, understanding the humor in the situation, posted a “highly plausible transcript” from Wednesday afternoon’s meeting.

—Posted by Emma Niles


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